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Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Review

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Posted: , by Corey Gaskin Corey Gaskin




Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Review

Flaunting the same highly-capable optics found in the original S8, the Active packs a 12-megapixel, optically-stabilized sensor in back with an 8-megapixel shooter in front. Both have the shooting modes we’re used to seeing on the latest Samsungs, including a depth-of-field effect, which works well on both sensors. Although you can edit the effect after the fact, this is limited to a three-mode selection. Near Focus gives you the bokeh you intended, while Far Focus applies blur to the foreground image and sharpens the background, and Pan Focus applies focus to all areas, with no blur at all. No slider exists to adjust blur as seen in the Note 8’s Live Focus feature.

Regular pictures taken on the front-facing camera come out generally well-exposed, with good detail. Selective focus works well here too, though the sensors strength in properly exposing and focusing an entire shot is also readily apparent.

The rear-facing camera is an excellent low-light performer, catching details equal to the best in the biz, and exceeding them in pulling out accurate, vibrant colors from the shadows. While not the absolute best in toning down hotspots within scenes containing light and dark areas – the iPhone 7 seems to beat it there – the S8 Active may take the crown (or rather share it with its Galaxy brethren) for capturing color in low-light and maintaining sharp details with little noise throughout. For our money, we’d rather have a couple slight hotspots than an entire area of color-less darkness.

This proclivity with low-light color capture seems to be linked to the sensor's tendency to shoot warmer (yellower) colors, just as the iPhones shortcomings in low-light appear tied to its strengths in shooting more accurate colors. Preferences on this are subjective, of course, and nothing quite compares to the capability of the human eye (yet) but as it stands right now, it seems the S8/S8 Active will afford you better overall low-light performance, while the iPhone 7 has the edge in overall color accuracy.

Macro shots on the Active produce great sharpness in the foreground and pleasing bokeh in the background – not to mention the amazing quickness with which the S8 Active focuses a subject, thanks to dual-pixel technology.

Video Quality

Dual-pixel produces the same exquisite results in focusing real-time video. If you’ve never seen it in action, please make sure to check the sample video to see its great capability, as it focuses objects instantaneously. Optical image stabilization also makes it mark here, keeping videos smooth and balanced, , though it does suffer from a bit of shutter-roll, as well as a peculiar image wobble at the end of pans. Video quality, much like image quality, is also quite good here. Details are crisp, movement looks good, and colors are generally well-represented.


By now we’re all aware of the growing pains encountered with the proliferation of extra-tall “bezel-less” displays. To recap, these taller displays present an issue for video formatting due to their awkward aspect ratios. This leads to situations where videos are cropped, stretched, or letterboxed to accommodate these displays. In the instance of the Galaxy S8 Active, the aspect ratio is 18.5x9 – the same as the original S8 – and all of the above methods are incorporated to remedy this. Videos produced in a 2:1 ratio are your best friend here, but even those will leave you with black bars on the top and bottom, though not on the sides. This is simply the price to pay for such tall screens. YouTube, at least, has begun auto-fitting compatible 2:1 videos to your screen, but content in this format is still very sparse.

Listening to music on the Active will be a better experience than on most phones. The loudspeaker is not only loud, but also fuller and less tinny than comparable flagships. Samsung’s typically excel in this area, and thankfully the S8 Active continues in this tradition.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.8 inches, 1440 x 2960 pixels (568 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera12 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz, Kryo 280 processor
Size5.99 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches
(152.1 x 74.9 x 9.9 mm)
7.34 oz  (208 g)
Battery4000 mAh, 32 hours talk time

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